Kate faces the tragic fate of her ancestors during WW1 for the first time

Mail Online | 7/16/1916 | Robert Hardman for the Daily Mail
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Even amid the carnage of the ‘war to end all wars’, few families endured a loss as grave as that which befell Francis Lupton of Newton Park, near Leeds.

All three of his sons went off to serve King and country. All three were killed in action. And yesterday, the scale of his grief was laid out in front of his great great granddaughter – the Duchess of Cambridge.

Days - Centenary - Armistice - Duchess - Imperial

Just days ahead of the centenary of the Armistice, the duchess was at the Imperial War Museum yesterday – at her own request. Only a month ago, the museum received a bundle of letters which had passed through various branches of her family until a relative decided to entrust them to the IWM.

Having been raised on the heartbreaking history of her forebears, the duchess was very keen to see these new documents for herself.

Story - Reminiscent - Hollywood - Blockbuster - Private

Here was a story reminiscent of the Hollywood blockbuster Saving Private Ryan – about a man who has lost four brothers in the Second World War. Although based on a true story, Steven Spielberg’s multi-Oscar-winning film was fiction. This was a tale of true, unvarnished tragedy – one which now goes to the heart of the modern Royal Family.

The duchess had never seen photographs of her three great great uncles – Francis, Maurice and Lionel Lupton – until yesterday afternoon. She was particularly struck by the family resemblance in young Maurice. The boys’ mother Harriet had died in 1892.

Family - Heirlooms - Issue - Postcard - Lionel

Nor had she seen family heirlooms like the standard issue postcard from Lionel on July 16, 1916, telling his family: ‘I am quite well.’ Just hours later, he was killed by enemy shell fire.

‘It’s all so sad,’ said the duchess, her words tailing off.

Telegram - Richard - Noel - Middleton - Brothers

Here, too, was the telegram from a certain Richard Noel Middleton, married to the brothers’ elder sister, Olive. He...
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